College baseball power rankings 2014: South Carolina looks unstoppable

Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks are off to a perfect start and top our first power rankings of the season, though Florida State, LSU, Vanderbilt and Virginia aren't far behind.

South Carolina is back on top of the college baseball world ... or at least that's the way we see it.

With most of the major conferences either having just begun league play or gearing up to do so this weekend, it's time to unveil our first power rankings of the season -- and you can guess who's on top. Coming off a "down" year in which they reached the finals of the Chapel Hill Super Regional, the Gamecocks have charged out of the gates at 15-0 and look to have a strong opportunity to capture their third national championship in five years.

They'll have plenty of competition in the loaded SEC, beginning this weekend when they take on a 14-2 Ole Miss team desperate to show it can rise back to the top of the conference. LSU and Vanderbilt give the conference three of the top five spots on our list.

The ACC is well represented with three teams in the top 10. Florida State looks like a serious national championship contender, and Virginia and N.C. State are also in the mix to end the conference's long title drought.

The current class of the West Coast schools are Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton and Oregon, who come in at Nos. 7 through 9, respectively.

1. South Carolina

Overall: 15-0
Last week: 5-0

The Gamecocks followed up their dramatic sweep of Clemson by blanking Brown over the weekend. As in they didn't give up a run in three games. These guys can pitch.

2. Florida State

Overall: 12-2
Last week: 4-1

So what if Jameis Winston wins two national championships this year? Because it's very possible.

3. LSU

Overall: 14-2

Last week: 5-0

Picking between LSU and Vandy is pretty much a coin flip at this point, but a monster series between the two this weekend will solve that.

4. Vanderbilt

Overall: 15-2
Last week: 5-0

Likely top-five MLB Draft pick Tyler Beede had another dominant Friday, improving to 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA, 33 strikeouts and five walks on the season.

5. Virginia

Overall: 11-3
Last week: 2-1

The Cavs certainly didn't have an easy time of it in Durham, where they took two of three from Duke over the weekend. All three games were decided by a single run.

6. N.C. State

Overall: 13-2
Last week: 4-0

Carlos Rodon has the highest ERA among the Wolfpack weekend rotation. It's not that the nation's top pitching prospect is playing poorly, it's that N.C. State's arms are just that good.

7. Oregon State

Overall: 14-3
Last week: 5-0

Over five games last week -- including a four-game sweep of Northern Illinois -- the Beaver pitching staff allowed just two runs.

8. Cal State Fullerton

Overall: 8-5
Last week: 1-2

The Titans followed up an impressive sweep of Oregon with a perplexing series loss to Baylor.

9. Oregon

Overall: 12-4
Last week: 4-1

Oregon clinched its series over Ohio State with a 20-4 win on Sunday, but the Ducks are stuck behind Cal State Fullerton for the foreseeable future after that sweep.

10. Louisiana-Lafayette

Overall: 13-2
Last week: 3-0

With wins over a pair of ranked SEC teams (LSU and Alabama) already under their belt, the Ragin' Cajuns are legit.

11. Louisville

Overall: 10-4
Last week: 2-1

The Cardinals bounced back from a Friday night loss to throttle Miami (Ohio) by a combined score of 19-1 on Saturday and Sunday.

12. North Carolina

Overall: 10-4
Last week: 3-1

The Tarheels don't have the same power in their lineup that made them the top team for most of last season, but they're still formidable. They started ACC play with a series win over Pittsburgh, but missed the sweep when they let a late Sunday lead slip away.

13. Cal Poly

Overall: 11-3
Last week: 3-1

Cal Poly is still coasting on its series win over UCLA two weeks ago.

14. Texas

Overall: 13-4
Last week: 3-1

The Longhorns eased through a midweek win over Valparaiso, then took two of three from Hawaii in Austin.

15. Miami (Fla.)

Overall: 10-5
Last week: 5-0

Some of the pollsters are down on Miami, but I'm willing to forgive a series loss to No. 2 Florida State, particularly considering the Hurricanes have a series win over Florida.

16. Oklahoma State

Overall: 11-4
Last week: 1-2

The Cowboys lost the back half of a Friday doubleheader against San Diego and then got blanked, 7-0, to drop the series on Sunday.

17. Ole Miss

Overall: 14-2
Last week: 3-1

The Rebels lost their fourth consecutive game to Memphis on Wednesday before sweeping UALR. A fluke drop with two outs in the bottom of the ninth allowed them to squeak out a 2-1 comeback on Friday, but the going got easier with big offensive games the next two days.

18. Clemson

Overall: 9-5
Last week: 3-1

Coming off a deflating sweep at the hands of arch-nemesis South Carolina, Clemson kept sinking with an 18-10 loss to Western Carolina. The Tigers rebounded on the weekend, sweeping Virginia Tech to open ACC play.

19. UCLA

Overall: 8-7
Last week: 1-3

The defending national champs aren't getting the same type of pitching that carried them to the title last season. They gave up 18 runs in consecutive losses to Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine and Houston before finally stopping the bleeding with a 6-5 win over USC.

20. Tennessee

Overall: 14-1
Last week: 4-1

The Vols lost their first game of the season but finally got a chance to prove themselves against serious competition with a series win over a ranked Arizona State team. Maybe they are legit after all.

21. Kentucky

Overall: 13-3
Last week: 4-1

After Kentucky lost in 10 innings to Ball State on Friday, you might have predicted a hard-fought, competitive series. Not exactly. The Wildcats outscored their overmatched opponent 50-4 over the next two days.

22. UC Santa Barbara

Overall: 10-2
Last week: 3-1

After beating Mississippi State twice and Arizona once last week, the Gauchos are back in the national rankings for the first time since 2009. They also have a win over UCLA to hang their hat on.

23. Mississippi State

Overall: 12-7
Last week: 2-3

Between Mississippi State and UCLA, last season's national championship finalists have already lost a combined 14 games.

24. Texas Tech

Overall: 14-3
Last week: 5-0

Those three wins against Indiana to start the season don't look quite as impressive now that the Hoosiers have nose-dived out of the rankings, but this is a talented team -- and the Red Raiders still have that win over Rice to bolster their argument.

25. Rice

Overall: 10-6
Last week: 3-1

Speaking of the Owls, they had a long day last Saturday while splitting a doubleheader against Old Dominion. They played a combined 27 innings after both games went into extras.

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